August 20, 2010

Press Summary Archive

European Commission wants three EU pay rises in twelve months

20 August 2010
The Mail and the front page of the Express report that EU officials are in line for three pay rises - boosting their salaries by over 5 percent, over the next twelve months. The European Commission’s budget proposal for 2011 states that, “A salary increase of 2.2 per cent is expected at the end of 2010 with a potential further adjustment to 1.3 per cent in 2011.”

On top of this, officials are set for a third increase following a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the dispute over a 3.7 percent increase that UK and other member states halted last year due to the financial crisis. The ECJ judges are expected to rule in favour of the increase later this year, which would be backdated to July 2009. The ECJ’s judges also stand to benefit from the increase as all EU pay is derived from the same scale. The salary of an EU Director-General would rise by £1,000, to a gross income of anywhere between £17,600 and £18,500 per month.

Open Europe is quoted in the Express saying, “The Government needs to stand up for UK taxpayers and make it clear that handing over more money to Brussels when it is budget-cutting at home is simply unacceptable.”
Mail Express

Stephen Booth: The Government needs to take stand against the trickle of policing and criminal justice powers to the EU
On Conservative Home, Open Europe’s Stephen Booth suggests that for a government committed to “protecting Britain’s civil liberties” the coalition’s decision to opt in to the controversial European Investigation Order “seems careless”. He goes on to argue, “Add into the mix the Conservatives’ pre-election promise to repatriate EU powers over policing and criminal justice and [Home Secretary] Theresa May’s announcement looks increasingly vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy.”

The article sets out the choices the Government must make over the next four years regarding the powers of the European Court of Justice over EU police and criminal justice laws applying to the UK. He adds that, “Given that agreeing to any new or amended EU justice and home affairs legislation means ceding jurisdiction to the ECJ,  the Government is already taking a rather liberal interpretation of its promise to ‘ensure that there is no further transfer of sovereignty or powers over the course of the next Parliament’”.

Stephen concludes that Conservative MPs must put “pressure on their Cabinet to resist the temptation of acquiescing to the drip, drip, drip of new proposals and amendments that are bound to come from Brussels over the next few years.”
Conservative Home: Booth

Commission approves Greece’s second bailout installment but Greek government fails provide complete data on budget;
It is widely reported that yesterday the European Commission officially approved Greece’s second €9 billion installment of the €110 billion eurozone bailout loan. Het Financieele Dagblad reports that Slovakia’s share of €65 million will be paid by other eurozone countries, due to its refusal to take part in the bailout scheme.

EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn is quoted by Le Figaro saying: "Greece has managed impressive budgetary consolidation during the first half of 2010 and has achieved swift progress with major structural reforms”. Italian news agency Asca notes that a Commission statement reports that some data has still not been provided by the Greek government: “data on the infra-annual budgetary implementation by social security funds, local government and extra budgetary funds, information on public sector employment, expenditure pending of payment - including arrears - are still incomplete”.

EUobserver notes that the Commission has acknowledged for the first time that austerity measures imposed on Greece have triggered a spiral of social unrest in the country. Amadeu Altafaj Tardio, a spokesman for Commissioner Olli Rehn, is quoted saying: “We are aware of the social tensions that exist. This impact from these important reforms is certain, we will not play with words with that”.

An article in the Telegraph looks at the deteriorating situation of Greek banks, which lost 8 percent of their entire deposit base between January and May 2010, according to a report published by HSBC. Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors is quoted warning that Greek lenders have so far been able to cover their funding gap only through huge loans from the European Central Bank (ECB). "What is worrying is that this is not just Greeks. Portuguese banks borrowed €50 billion in July compared to €41.5 billion in June. Together with Ireland and Spain they have borrowed €387 billion from the ECB", he added. In a poll of 60 economists conducted by Reuters, 55 respondents predicted that eurozone debt problems would last at least another year; 26 forecasting at least two years. 19 economists stated that a US slowdown would be the biggest risk to the eurozone.

Meanwhile, the Parliament magazine reports that Greek MEP Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou has called for a promotional campaign to boost the image of the euro throughout the EU for those "who feel that the euro is an expensive currency to maintain", especially in the wake of the recent debt crisis in Greece.
Telegraph WSJ FD The Parliament WSJ 2 EUobserver Le Figaro BBC EurActiv Les Echos Les Echos 2 La Stampa ANSA Reuters Italia El Pais Irish Independent Asca FD Handelsblatt Reuters

Former president of a local confederation of Italian farmers charged for misuse of EU funds
Italian news agency ANSA reports that Nicola Cappa, the former President of a local confederation of Italian farmers in the Southern Italian Calabria region, has been arrested on the allegation of misuse of EU farm subsidies. Italian police confiscated goods worth €9 million – including a yacht and several luxury cars – which Cappa might have bought using EU funds.

EU spends €6m on “communication objects” with EU flag
The Parliament reports that the European Parliament has a awarded a Belgian firm up to €6 million to produce “communication objects” including pencils, mugs, t-shirts, USB sticks, umbrellas and mouse mats. The objects will carry the EU flag and messages such as "The European parliament defending you".
The Parliament

Writing on his Telegraph blog, Daniel Hannan MEP argues that the legal basis for the proposed EU Directive on alternative investment fund managers (AIFM) may be illegal.
Telegraph: Hannan's blog OE research

EUobserver reports that the Polish Foreign Ministry has instructed its diplomats to defend the EU cohesion policy budget in the upcoming negotiations for the overall EU budget post-2013.

The WSJ notes that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is facing a significant meeting with his top ministers today to discuss the country's growth and deficit. Many observers, including members of Mr. Sarkozy's UMP party, consider the French government's growth forecast to be overly optimistic.
WSJ Bloomberg El Pais

The Sun reports that a proposed EU directive to monitor pest control may make traditional methods less effective and provoke an increase of rats in the UK.

On his WSJ blog Iain Martin looks at the appointment of Lord Brittan as the Government’s Trade Minister, writing, “The post shouldn’t take up too much of his time. As a former EU Trade Commissioner he is well placed to understand that the UK has no control over its own trade policy, it being a matter for the EU.”
WSJ: Martin's blog

Labour leadership contender Ed Balls has called for changes to the EU’s free movement of labour rules and tighter restrictions on EU immigrant workers sending benefit money back to their country of origin, reports PA.
No link

Le Figaro reports that French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux has urged the European Commission to step up its engagement in the re-integration of the Roma people whose repatriation from France to Romania and Bulgaria began yesterday. AFP quotes French Immigration Minister Eric Besson responding to warnings from the European Commission and the UN, saying: “France has no lessons to receive [on immigration policy]”.
Le Figaro BBC: Hewitt AFP Les Echos 1 Les Echos 2 Il Sole 24 Ore Nouvel Observateur Le Point El Pais  

German business leaders criticise cost of EU-driven renewable energy policy
The front page of Handelsblatt reports that more than 40 of Germany's top business managers have criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel's energy and industrial policies. They criticise in particular renewable energy, which member states have to promote due to strict EU limits, writing: "renewable energy, especially solar energy, will cause significant extra costs in the future and have already cost €8 billion this year alone”.
Handelsblatt FTD

El Mundo reports on the Swiss Government’s recent review of EU accession, quoting the Swiss Prime Minister Doris Leuthard saying: “the government has discussed accession to the European Union but we have decided that in this moment the best instrument for Swiss interests continues to be bilateralism”.
El Mundo        

EUobserver reports that EU Foreign Minister, Catherine Ashton, could not address yesterday’s special UN gathering on the Pakistani humanitarian disaster, because she does not have full rights to speak at the UN yet. Instead, Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency, was sent to represent the EU.

The European Commission is drawing up guidelines on the permitted ingredients of the Cornish pasty, so that it can be given the same protected status as other regional specialties such as Melton Mowbray pork pies.

The EU’s European General Court has ordered a suspension of the EU's seal product ban just as the regulation was due to enter into force.
EUobserver AFP ADNL La Stampa